Moai Statues

Photos Reveal Giant Easter Island Moai Statues are Covered in Mysterious Symbols


Images from the 2012 excavation of Easter Island’s iconic statues reveal the renowned heads are not only connected to giant bodies, but the bodies are covered in mysterious designs and symbols, which researchers have likened to tattoos.

With a study last week which claimed to have definitively worked out just how the Easter Islanders managed to lift the hats to the heads of the Moai statues, the next puzzle to solve is what exactly these body designs are all about. reported that a previously unseen series of photographs show in fascinating detail the excavated bodies of the distinctive stone humanoids. Archaeologists were surprised to find that the stone bodies, shielded from environmental weathering beneath the soil, are decorated with ancient details —whirls and crescents believed to be tattoos.

Researchers say the crescent shapes might represent the canoes of local Polynesians, though this is just one theory.

Detailed markings are visible.

Detailed markings are visible. Credit: The Easter Island Statue Project

The Rapa Nui people who originally settled the island centuries ago erected 887 amazing giant stone statues called moai. The moai have proved to be an enduring mystery with many lasting questions; how and why were they built; were they purposefully buried or did time bury the statues under silt; why do some face away from the sea and towards the island; how were the heavy stones moved around the island; why do some sport heavy red stone hats ? Researchers hope to answer these questions and more with investigations.

Moais (stone statues) on Ahu Nau, Anakena Beach, Easter Island.

Moais (stone statues) on Ahu Nau, Anakena Beach, Easter Island. Wikimedia Commons

Director of the Easter Island Statue Project, Jo Anne Van Tilburg says, “The reason people think they are [only] heads is there are about 150 statues buried up to the shoulders on the slope of a volcano, and these are the most famous, most beautiful and most photographed of all the Easter Island statues. This suggested to people who had not seen photos of [other unearthed statues] that they are heads only,” reports news website IBTimes.

Initial excavations in 1914 revealed some of the bodies of the giant volcanic rock statues, which can weigh up to 88 tons and be up to 10 meters (33 feet) tall. The hands of some of the statues can be seen to wrap around to the navel .

Academics speculate the stylized figures represented ancestors or high status tribal figures. It is theorized that the stone was quarried on the island, and next it was carved and decorated at the quarries, and then finally the statues were “walked” slowly across the islands to their final positions as guardians protecting against disaster.

Explorer and author David Hatcher Childress wrote in a 2013 article:

Jean-Michel Schwartz says in his 1975 book ‘The Mysteries of Easter Island’ that he believes the statues were not moved by wooden rollers or sleds but rather by using ropes around the statues which ‘walked’ the statues in the same way as one might walk a refrigerator; by tilting it first to one side, shifting the airborne portion forward, and setting it down again. By this method, the statues would truly walk in a waddle fashion around the island.
Later, a Czech mechanical engineer named Pavel recreated this method along with Thor Heyerdahl. With twenty other men, they tied ropes around a statue and leaned it from side to side while pulling it forward with the rope, a slight variation on Schwartz’s method. The method worked, but was excruciatingly slow. It is an ingenious theory which takes into account the legends of the walking statues […]

Easter Island was settled between 300 AD and 1200 AD by Polynesians who eventually became the Rapa Nui. Between the 10th and 16th centuries the island community expanded steadily, with settlements being set up along practically the entire coastline. Following this period, however, the population took an extremely rapid decline dropping from 15,000 to approximately 2,000. Past theories explained their demise as the result of economic and social crises due to environmental deterioration: deforestation leading to land erosion. However, recent studies suggest the arrival of Europeans in the 1700s, and slavery and smallpox , are factors which probably devastated the population of the Rapa Nui.

Work continues on the island through university-led research, and the Easter Island Statue Project , along with assistance from the Rapa Nui people.

Galleries of images of Easter Island discoveries can be seen at the site, and others are currently being viewed on social media site Imgur .

The famous moai of Easter Island

The famous moai of Easter Island (BigStockPhoto)

To image: The intricately carved details as recorded in 2012. Archaeologists believe the decorations are tattoos. Credit: The Easter Island Statue Project

By Liz Leafloor


How far do the bodies go? Are they only torsos? Do they have legs and feet?

The latin american connection is further enforced by a small stone figurine of about 12 inches in height, that is virtually identical to the moai, but was found in colombia...
"Klaus Dona" is the name you should be keeping in mind if you´re interested in this

Concerning their purpose, interesting finds have been made.
a very observant amateur archaeologist, who did not identify himself by name, recently pointed out that the Moai share their ear design with mushroom-cult figurines found over most of Latin America.
This is of importance as it constitutes evidence for a Latin american influence, if not origin, as opposed to polynesian, as well as the practice of a form of mushroom cult, as the Moai have mushrooms encoded in their faces with the nose and heavy browridges constituting the stalk and cap of the mushroom.
This truly struck me like lightning when I realised it...

The usual method used, once the statue was seated, was to bury the statue with earth or sand (depending on what was locally available), then roll the "hats" into place, then remove the soil. This method was used in ancient Egypt for many statues and structures. I believe this was how Stonehenge and other megalithic structures where accomplished. Though laborious, it is simple and effective. Considering the massive weights involved, it is very safe for both the workers and the stone object being placed because a partial soil/sand removal can be done and if the thing isn't stable, the stone does not have far to fall and the buried supporting structure is protected.

Thor Heyerdayhl has, many years previously, dug down below the surface and found insciprtions. Nothing new here.

The theory that the statues were walked is strong one as the current Islanders have also said that this was the method used, however it has not been explained how the red hats were placed. The hats are seperate from the statues and balanced upon the heads and further, weigh several tons. How did they managed to lift them up and on?  

Most importantly, it would be really something if we could determine why the statues were carved and erected. Which purpose did they serve? Surley they did serve a purpose?


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